O/NSO - Transition edition

The roar of the USC Trojan recruiting engine has once again alerted the nation that the future is now as Pete Carroll is making his final national house calls and all signs point to another mother load of talent headed for Heritage Hall.

The Obvious – The roar of the USC Trojan recruiting engine has once again alerted the nation that the future is now as Pete Carroll is making his final national house calls and all signs point to another mother load of talent headed for Heritage Hall.

The Not So Obvious – Such is the irony of college football that in the same January month a valued number of Trojan underclass veterans head for the National Football League, Pete Carroll is busy lining up their replacements from the prep ranks. Even more evidence of the sign of the times is that the Trojans can lose a Parade Magazine All-America offensive tackle in the afternoon and can replace him with a Parade Magazine running back in the evening. Good-bye Sam Young and hello C.J Gable.

The Obvious – Sylmar's RB/CB C.J. Gable announced a verbal commitment to the Trojans on Thursday evening during the Fox Sports West high school highlight show.

The Not So Obvious – Gable, who may have given away his secret choice by wearing a red sweatshirt on the show said one of the reasons that he choose to stay local was because of his tight relationship with his mother, who could come to the Coliseum to watch him play. Sweet justice for the Trojans who had made inroads with Ohio State running back recruit Chris Wells until his mama's desire to watch him play put a halt to that idea. It's the old recruiting rule. Recruit the mom as strongly as you recruit the son.

The Obvious – January brings out the cavalcade of prep All-America teams and with a couple of weeks to go before the signing period beginning on Feb. 1, the Trojans are already illuminated the recruiting billboard.

The Not So Obvious – The prestigious in-progress "USC" Parade All-America team has now grown to include cardinal and gold verbals David Ausberry (WR, Lemoore, Calif.), Butch Lewis (DL, Aurora, Colo.), Taylor Mays (DB, O'Dea, Wash.), Antwine Perez (DB, Camden , N.J.), C.J. Gable (RB/CB, Sylmar) and Allen Bradford (LB, Colton, Calif.). Without spilling too many beans, it figures the Trojans will also pick up at least one more blue chipper from the Parade team with a possibility of three more.

The Obvious – One of the most recognized and longest running All-Western Region teams is the Long Beach Press Telegram's Best in the West.

The Not So Obvious –Scout.com and Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist Frank Burlison is the CEO of the voting process and he tells the O/NSO that the 2006 edition of the Best in the West will hit the newsstands on Sunday, January 29. Look for bios on the top 20 players.

The Obvious– Utah running back Stanley Havili of Salt Lake City Cottonwood has verbally committed the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Haviili's verbal was unique in that it was carried on the Internet throughout the land courtesy of a local Salat Lake City television station, which carried the live announcement. Don't expect to see Stanley Steamers name on the exclusive upper echelon of prep All-America teams, but this kid may be the next generation David Kirtman and Trojan fans know that recruit turned out.

The Obvious – With Florida's Sam Young gone to South Bend, the Trojan are hoping for at least one commitment from at least one of the big two remaining All-America offensive linemen, namely Washington's Steve Schilling and Alabama's Andre Smith,

The Not So Obvious – So how long did it take the Trojans' competition to alert the remaining priorities that line coach Pat Ruel was considered a strong coaching candidate for the Green Bay Packers new staff? Probably as long as it took Pete Carroll and Ruel to inform them that "Golden" was staying at Troy, agents or no agents trying to raid his offensive cupboard. Give Ruel credit, he showed no hypocrisy telling departing Fred Matua to stay and then bolting to the NFL himself.

The Obvious – Tom Lemming's is considered one of the foremost authorities in prep football recruiting.

The Not So Obvious – Lemming's 2005 All-America Team has been sent subscribers and a number of Trojans are in his top 208 player list. The highest ranked Trojan is free safety Taylor Mays, who is ranked seventh in the country. Virginia wide receiver Percy Harvin, the Florida verbal whom the Trojans continue to recruit, is Co-Offensive Player of the Year along with recommitted Arkansas quarterback verbal Mitch Mustain, while Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is locked in a mortal recruiting struggle between the Trojans and the Sooners, is named by Lemming's as the Defensive Player of the Year.

The Obvious – Irvine Woodbridge defensive lineman Alex Parsons has made a major impact in recruiting circles thanks to his CaliFlorida Defensive Player of the game performance last month.

The Not So Obvious – Before you take Lemming's list as gospel, just note in his coverage of the West, Parsons is not listed in his top 75 players in this region. Don't expect big Alex to be neglected come voting time for publications like the Best in the West.

The Obvious – The two most critical areas of USC recruiting at this point of the season is the twin battle for running backs and offensive linemen.

The Not So Obvious – In the opinion of the O/NO, the most glaring question mark for the 2006 Trojan team is the running back position. With Hershel Dennis, Michael Coleman, and Desmond Reed coming back from the surgeon's knife, the position is a major question mark, making the need for a home run hitter out of the prep ranks a high priority. For our money, the new Thunder and Lightening could come in the form of Dorsey's Stafon "Thunder" Johnson and Texas Reggie Bush clone, Michael "Lightening" Goodson. Of course, don't tell Trojan verbal Emmanuel Moody, who could be the jack-of-all-trades of the group.

The Obvious – Much is being made of the fact that the Trojans have lost five underclass players to the NFL.

The Not So Obvious – It is the opinion of the O/NSO that it wouldn't have meant a hill of beans whether the Trojans had beaten Texas in regards to the decisions of Bush, White, Justice, Bing, and Matua. There were enough indications during the season that all five were going pro regardless of the Rose Bowl outcome. Pete Carroll did an admirable job trying to keep some of his charges from The League, but the fear of injury and a two-word reminder kept their desires on the NFL. The two words? Lofa Tatupu.

The Obvious – Despite the loss of a large number of talented players, most publications still have the 2006 Trojans in the nation's top five.

The Not So Obvious – And well they should when you look and the depth and experience many of the younger players received during the offensive blowouts of 2005. Attention, of course, will focus on the battle for quarterback between John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, and the credentials of both coming out of high school and the talent and experience both gained at Troy has not been lost in the translation by those that evaluate such rankings.

The Obvious – There has been a growing controversy over reports that the recruiting of Oklahoma defensive lineman Gerald McCoy has become a nasty grudge match between the Trojans and Oklahoma.

The Not So Obvious – With all the rumors and innuendos hitting the Internet recruiting highway, it can only mean the Trojans have positioned themselves to snatch McCoy out of the Sooner state assigning day nears. Confirmed sources indicate that Trojan verbals, specifically those that performed in the U.S. Army game, made a direct impact on McCoy and the Sooner staff knows they are in another Orange Bowl struggle with Troy and have been pulling out all the stops.

The Obvious – A number of competing programs were hoping that the Trojans loss in the Rose Bowl would slow down some of the recruiting momentum.

The Not So Obvious – Recruits are smart enough to know that one game, especially a down to the wire classic, won't stop the Trojans' recruiting march. In a twist of fate, Pete Carroll's graciousness and class in defeat during his ABC post-game comments probably was as appealing to recruits and their parents as had he been on the victory ledger.

The Obvious – Most Trojans were disappointed that All-America strong safety Darnell Bing applied for the NFL.

The Not So Obvious – Those close to Bing say it was the fear of injury and the potential loss of money that was a primary reason for his decision. As a junior, Bing had yet to rise to Ronnie Lott status, but a senior season, which Lott cemented his legacy, might have placed Bing in that rare air. One thing we are certain, Bing is best Trojan running back we will never see.

The Obvious – The departure of the Trojans' prized underclassmen is nothing new except for the number of players.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have lost stars to early NFL entry dating back to the days of Mark Carrier, Junior Seau, and Curtis Conway. During that period, the Trojan rosters were not as deep as Pete Carroll's treasure trove, and the results were tough as the Men of Troy had difficulty replacing these All-Americans, both as players and team leaders.

The Obvious – Safety Mark Carrier (1987 – 89) is the lone Trojans' Jim Thorpe Award winner (1989), an award that goes to the nation's most outstanding defensive back.

The Not So Obvious – Carrier, who was once a Trojan radio talk-show host and most recently the Arizona State secondary coach, has taken the secondary coach position with the Baltimore Ravens. Of the recent Carrier hire, head coach Brian Billick said, "Mark brings the unique perspective to the position that only a former player can bring. In addition he has made a commitment to the profession having coached at both the high school and collegiate level. Mark will bring the same toughness and tenacity to this staff that he brought to his teams during his 11-year career in the NFL." Carrier replaces former UCLA DB Johnny Lynn, who was apparently let go by the Ravens and could be a candidate for the Westwood defensive coordinator's position.

The Obvious – There has been some rumblings that Trojan linebacker coach Ken Norton is being approached for the Bruins' new DC position.

The Not So Obvious – Want to put a quick end to these cross-town rumors? Just have Norton come and say he's not interested immediately. Duh.

The Obvious – In a recent USA Today article on the amount of penalty flags thrown per game by each Division 1-A conference, the Pac-10 was the second most "flagged" conference in the country (18.0) followed third by the Big 12 (17.2).

The Not So Obvious – The second least penalizing conference in the country was the Big 10, which averaged 13.4 flags per game. The significance of it all was that Big 10 officials worked the Rose Bowl, and there were a combined total of nine penalties by the Trojans (5/30 yds) and Longhorns (4/34 yds). The conference with the most flags per game this season? The Sun Belt with an average of 19.3 penalties per game.

The Obvious – It will be interesting to see how much interest there is by Trojans fans in the purchase of this year's 2005 DVD highlights.

The Not So Obvious – It would be a shame if one game, no matter how big the Rose Bowl was, dampens the enthusiasm for an item that has been a showstopper the past three seasons.

The Obvious – Following the 2004 Trojan national championship, it didn't take long after the final game of the season for season ticket renewal forms to be mailed.

The Not So Obvious – Coming up just short in the Rose Bowl, it will be of great interest to see if Heritage Hall wants to put a little space between the Rose Bowl and the beginning of spring practice in late March. For the average Joe, it will also be of some intrigue concerning a potential monetary increase per season ticket.

The Obvious – ESPN's Mel Kiper is considered one of the foremost experts on the NFL draft.

The Not So Obvious – According to Kiper's latest draft predictions, five Trojans will be picked in the first round. Naturally, it's RB Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart as the first two picks to Houston and New Orleans respectively, but the great Pompadour of Follicles says OT Winston Justice will be No. 16 to Miami, RB LenDale White will go No. 17 to Minnesota, and SS Darnell Bing No. 31 to Denver. If selected by Miami, Justice would be reunited with former Trojan offensive line coach Tim Davis.

The Obvious – The Trojans lost out on Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas offensive tackle Sam Young, who declared for Notre Dame on Thursday afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – With the return of the Irish to prominence under Charlie Weis, those old fashioned Trojan/Irish recruiting wars are now in full swing. Earlier in the month, the Trojans snatched Colorado tackle Butch Lewis from under the shadows of the Golden Dome. This year's battles between these two rivals, however, is small, foreshadowing potatoes in preparation for next year's full onslaught of Westlake Oaks Christian All-World quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his buddies. The Clausen decision may come right down to whom the family sees as the better quarterback developer for their son – Charlie Weis or Team Trojan consisting of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. The winds of a major recruiting war are upon us, considering that Clausen and friends were at Notre Dame's recent Junior Day presentation.

The Obvious – Matt Leinart, will be represented by agents Leigh Steinberg and Chuck Price in upcoming contract negotiations.

The Not So Obvious – Steinberg is a graduate of California. The O/NSO attended the 1980 Rose Bowl victory party at Artie Gigantino's house years ago when Artie was Trojan linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator. In attendance at the party was Steinberg, who was very much like the Jerry McGuire character that was modeled after Steinberg.. For the record, Gigantino knew Steinberg from Gigantino's days as a Cal assistant.

The Obvious - Rod Marinelli has reached an agreement with the Detroit Lions and is the new Motor City head coach.

The Not So Obvious – Marinelli coached at Troy for one season in 1995. What most may not remember, Rod was an All-CIF offensive guard out of Rosemead High in the late 60s and a good one. He was also a respected member of the South Shrine All-Stars that participated in the old format of NorCal vs SoCal. Speaking of the Shrine game, this year's game will be played at Citrus College in Glendora on June 24th. The format will remain public vs private, although we think a game encompassing the entire state would be more attractive.

The Obvious – The WeAreSC recruiting dinner at Anaheim's J.T. Schmidt's across from the Pond will be held on Saturday evening, January 28.

The Not So Obvious – For those concerned about traffic because of the Pond's event schedule, you will be delighted to know there are no events scheduled at the Pond on January 28. It's probably because the Pond didn't want to conflict with the sellout of the WeAreSC recruiting dinner, no doubt.

The Obvious – Don't forget that departing Trojan fullback David Kirtman, defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, corner Justin Wyatt, and punter Tom Malone will perform in Saturday's 81st annual East-West Shrine Game in San Antonio.

The Not So Obvious – The game will be broadcast into Southern California on ESPN2 at 1:00 p.m., and it figures to be a major "Riverwalk" opportunity for punter Malone, who can reestablish his draft status that may have taken a hit thanks to the Trojans' potent offense and an untimely hip injury that plagued him during the season. Here's hoping that Tommy booms some punts over the Alamo and on into Odessa.

The Obvious – The next couple of weeks figure to be exciting ones as the Trojans continue their push for a national championship in the recruiting arena.

The Not So Obvious – And that's the beauty of the recruiting in college football. For the Trojans, it's the chance put to bed the most intense season in USC history and turn attention to college football's Ponce de Leon fountain of youth, the recruiting season. Somebody pass a full cup of letters of intent and let's get those fax machines humming.

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